As well as contributing to the Department’s series of public seminars, we organise a regular seminar series focused on issues in Applied Linguistics. These seminars are an opportunity for staff and students to share their findings as well as discuss work in progress.

Process and product of engaging in video-mediated intercultural exchanges: a case of eTandem interaction between learners of Japanese and English

02 May 2017 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speaker: Yuka Akiyama, Georgetown University/Oxford Brookes University

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

In this talk, I will demonstrate the multifaceted nature of online intercultural exchanges (i.e., “telecollaboration”) by revealing the process (i.e., what happened during interaction) and product (i.e., how participants’ language developed). Specifically, for the former, I trained the participants to provide six different types of corrective feedback (i.e., error correction) and examined (1) how their beliefs about error correction changed (e.g., preference of a particular correction method) and (2) if such beliefs were reflected in the actual practice. For the latter, I examined what linguistic aspects did and did not improve as a result of engaging in telecollaboration for one semester by focusing on comprehensibility (i.e., ease of understanding) and four linguistic constituents that contribute to comprehensibility (i.e., lexical appropriateness, lexical richness, speech rate, grammatical accuracy). The analysis of both the process and product of telecollaborative interaction highlighted the need for telecollaboration research and practice to consider factors that range from personal (e.g., individuals’ beliefs, identity) and socio-institutional (e.g., culture, facilities) to assessment (e.g., “what” to measure).

Investigating the impact of extensive reading with data-driven learning

16 May 2017 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speaker: Professor Gregory Hadley, Niigata University

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Data-Driven Learning (DDL), developed in the 1990s by Johns (Johns, 1991), has been shown in numerous studies to be effective among advanced and intermediate learners (Braun, 2007; Charles, 2012; Granger, Hung, & Petch-Tyson, 2002; Sun & Wang, 2003). However, it has had only limited impact among “false beginners”, although small-scale studies have suggested that, with significant levels of scaffolding, DDL has the potential for positively enriching their second language learning experience (Boulton, 2009; Hadley, 2002; St. John, 2001). To date, the linguistic difficulty of currently available corpora has been a major barrier that has precluded these lower-level learners from truly embracing the full potential of this form of second language learning.

I report here on the second iteration of an on-going research project into the use of DDL within an extensive reading program at a Japanese university. The participants were Japanese, French, Chinese and Korean “novice-high” learners, defined here as students of B1 CEFR proficiency level, but who frequently exhibit borderline A2 aspects in classroom interactions. The corpus was developed by Oxford University Press from their Bookworms Graded Readers, thus ensuring that the data presented to students was at an appropriate linguistic level. An experimental group of 12 students used DDL materials based on the Bookworms corpus, while a control group of 11 students had no DDL input. Both groups read extensively (a minimum of 200,000 words over 15 weeks), and participated in similar in-class tasks, the difference being that experimental class also engaged in DDL activities.  The aim of the study was to ascertain whether the use of DDL materials would lead to enhanced vocabulary knowledge and English proficiency in the experimental group. A pre-test/post-test experimental design was employed, using Nation & Beglar's (2007) Vocabulary Levels Test and a C-test (Klein-Braley & Raatz, 1984) constructed from an upper-level Bookworms reader. The results of the pre-test indicated that the experimental group was statistically at a lower proficiency than the control group. Post-test results found that the experimental group caught up with the control group to become essentially the same statistical group, as indicated by C-test and vocabulary levels test results.  The control group, however, improved more in terms of speed reading than the experimental group.

Some possible reasons that could account for these results are considered, based upon a study of student attitudes and constructs through the use of Personal Construct Repertory Grids (Hadley & Evans, 2001; Jankowicz, 2004; Marsden & Littler, 2000). The presentation concludes with a discussion what the further steps are being taken to enhance language learning among novice-high learners through the use of DDL within the context of extensive reading.

(E)FL reading from the Croatian perspective

23 May 2017 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speaker: Associate Professor Renata Šamo, Faculty of Teacher Education, University of Zagreb

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

This lecture deals with the research into reading conducted with the Croatian young learners of English as a foreign language, and its focus is on their strategy use as the source of useful insights into the perception of L1 versus L2 reading, the strategic behaviour of L1 readers as opposed to L2 readers, and the identity of accomplished versus less accomplished L2 readers. In addition, it touches upon some implications that the main findings can have in teaching young learners how to read in both languages. The key conclusions have resulted from the lecturer’s continuous interest in reading as a dynamic interactive process, especially related to age as one of the crucial learner factors but also contextualised within the given language learning environment. Since this has been the first systematic research into reading of this type in Croatia, its contribution to the development of conceptual, terminological and methodological suggestions with regard to the Croatian learners of foreign languages in general cannot be neglected

Identifying and disseminating context-appropriate ELT pedagogy: a bottom up enhancement approach

30 May 2017 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speaker: Dr. Harry Kuchah Kuchah, University of Bath

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

In recent years, ELT professionals and researchers have called for contextually appropriate forms of ELT pedagogy to be developed, arguing that the dominant discourse on ELT methodology, as promoted by local Ministry of Education policy makers around the world, has been largely generated in ideal (North) contexts and so does not reflect the challenging realities of the majority of language teaching and learning contexts in which they are being imposed. Despite these calls, there has been very little research that shows how contextually appropriate ELT pedagogies can be developed especially in the context of large under-resourced primary classrooms in sub-Saharan Africa. In this talk, I report on a research study that attempted to fill this gap by exploring the practices and perspectives of both learners and teachers about what counts as good and appropriate English language teaching in two English medium primary school contexts in Cameroon. In presenting the findings of this study, I highlight the potential contribution of a bottom-up research approach to teacher development which recognises both learner and teacher agency as well as takes account of context in the process of identifying and disseminating good practice.